Frame Academy I Ever wondered what a 'rabbet' is? Clue: it doesn't have long ears, a cute nose, and taste good in pies. Picture-framing might not be rocket-science, but it is nevertheless an artistic endeavour that can be exceptionally complex and time-consuming if
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Frame Academy I

(And, Yes, There are Going to be Sequels - But You Won't Have to Live Forever to Read 'Em!)
By Paul Dunwell, writing for EasyFrame Copyright EasyFrame 2018

What This Article is About

Ever wondered what a 'rabbet' is? Clue: it doesn't have long ears, a cute nose, and taste good in pies. Picture-framing might not be rocket-science, but it is nevertheless an artistic endeavour that can be exceptionally complex and time-consuming if one is being ambitious, and a field that has its own lexicon of terms. If you want to have a bash at creating your own frames and feel you ought to be familiar with the terms that suppliers will use, or if you want to speak with a good framer to instruct them, then you ought to have some sort of glossary which explains terms like 'rabbet/rebate'.

This article provides that run-down of that essential terminology as a prelude to further 'Frame Academy' pieces that will span more complex aspects of the dark art of picture-framing!

picture frame rabbet

Picture Framing Terms

Acid burn Paper, tape, glue and other products contain acid which can leach into artwork or a photo to cause acid burn which makes the item yellow and brittle.
Acid-free See above. Special products that avoid these problems should have a pH of 6.5 to 8.5.
Acrylic Real glass is not always ideal. Acrylic, aka plexiglass or perspex, is light, harder to smash and can be UV / glare resistant.
Allowance Paper-based materials expand and contract to reflect changes in temperature and humidity. Allowance is the extra space in respect of height and width that framers should allow to ensure and prevent buckling. Usually it's about 1/8th of an inch or 3mm.
Antiquing It is possible to artificially age frames to match their contents, using buffing chemicals or otherwise distressing them.
Archival framing Any delicate or valuable item that is being framed for archive purposes needs to be preserved in acid-free/conservation grade surroundings, underneath a glass or acrylic that prevents fading, and in a frame that is easily dissembled without damaging the contents.
Backing To prevent warping and other damage, and to keep the item square in the frame, artwork, photographs and other items should be placed on backing (aka mounting board) before framing.
Bevelled edge This is the slope around the edge of the frame which helps delineate the item on show and therefore enhances the viewing experience.
Cardstock Stiffer and thicker than paper, these craft products will prevent photographs from buckling by pressing them against the glass or acrylic.
Contemporary style Up-to-date, which usually involves clean and unfussy lines, natural wood and metals.
Convex glass Convex glass, aka 'bubble-glass' was a bit of a 70s fad though, like 'bullion' windows it has fallen out of favour after it started fires in extremis. By bulging outwards convex glass means that the contents cannot easily stick to it if humidity is high.
Double mount Two different mounting boards, in different but contrasting colours, can be used to add depth. The top board has a larger aperture than the lower board, so only part of the bottom mat shows.
Enamel This is a protective and visually-enhancing layer that may have colour or even be transparent. It's used on wooden frames.
Foam core An alternative to cardstock, foam core is light, strong, antacid and ecologically responsible.
Frame size The inside opening from the back of the frame, and not the outer edges of the frame, determine its frame size. But one needs to allow for any mounting around the item being framed.
Glazing The transparent glass or acrylic covering that protects the contents of the frame from the environment in which it will hang.
Gilding This usually gold and in very thin flat sheets which are applied to the frame moulding. It can be made from silver or other metals.
Hinging Adhesive tape is used to invisibly attach the item on show to the mounting board. It has an advantage as the temperature and humidity vary.
Jersey frame A purpose-made case designed to show off a team shirt or similar.
Lignin A wood-based polymer often found in paper and with the capacity to become acidic, thus damaging anything with which it has contact.
Lip A frame's inner edge which might be bevelled or ornamental, it hides the rabbet/rebate and stops the glass or acrylic from falling out.
Mounting A layer of board that stops the contents of the frame from touching the glass and risking the two sticking together, it presents the viewer with a frame-within-a-frame view.
Moulding The binding, visible and decorative part of the picture frame. This holds everything together.
Non-invasive mounting Usually involving adhesive corners and hinges, non-invasive mountings attach items to mounting boards in a way that allows subsequent easy removal without damage to precious frame contents.
Ornamentation Decorations, usually to the moulding, which might involve beading and more.
Pressure-sensitive tape Avoiding chemicals and heat to make it stick, this only needs hand pressure to achieve adherence and has advantages in both application and removal.
Rabbet/Rebate The gap under the inner lip of the moulding which holds the glazing, mounting, contents, mounting board and backing is called the rabett. Or rebate. It needs to be deep enough to accommodate the combined depth of all contents plus a smidgeon of tolerance.
Reverse moulding A moulding with a higher inner lip is called a reverse moulding, and can add perspective though it is not always aesthetically pleasing.
Shadow box frame A cross between a display case and a picture frame, a shadow box frame can hold bulkier items with depth e.g. baby bootees.
Spacers Clear and thin plastic strips that, placed on the frame lip, create space between the glazing and the photo and the glass and thus reduce problems created by humidity.
UV Rays The sun and artificial light contain ultraviolet (UV) rays that ultimately damage not only photos but all items on display. UV-protective glazing reduces the susceptibility to UV rays.


EasyFrame is an obvious and affordable supplier, whether you want to source all you'd need to do the job yourself or have them do it for you. And now you can talk with them using terms that aren't entirely alien!

Any good framers will be able to show you a vast range of different solutions and advise on what might be the most suitable given the work and its proposed location.

EasyFrame is on 01234 856 501 and / or and they'll always chat even if you don't want to buy!

Article Posted: 22/10/2018 16:21:04

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